Nothing like the audio fingerprint of a city on a rainy day to give it your own personal sense of relationship and identity. Today, the first good really day of consistent unending rain we've experienced in Paris.
In addition to rain, the first bites of fall are subtly drifting into the fresh morning air. Bites of crispness accentuated by the residual hot summer air preserved in the Paris Metro.
Reminded me of my favorite sensual city finger print - the special frigid sea air of a fall Seattle day. Brought to mind one of my favorite photographs - above - taken in Belltown in downtown Seattle, on film, last fall in what turned out to be a final time to see many good friends.
The west coast life is full of ritual brought by external forces, essentially the weather. But not much other ritual, though certainly many trying to take root. A draw for me to live in Europe is to experience genuine ritual driven by culture, dating back to time before the idea of culture really existed. Whether its the liberation of Paris being celebrated this week or obscure harvest festivals in small towns or reigning of a new freeman of a city, it all makes people be who they are.
It seems, whether a society, family group or even a nascent technology, once it gets past its self aware existence and on with what it is, forgotten or taken for granted really, is when it becomes culture. It is interesting coming from a place with so little local ritual and myth (both the religious and non-religious kind) to see just how important it is. Elements that bond people and a group. Elements void in a cookie cutter mid-west suburb connected only by a stop sign that prevents t-bone collisions - possibly the only potential for direct human contact in a gated community.
Whether we recognize it or not, we need our rituals. Though for a new society the race to have some or the need to round the corners through public consultation and reviews by tourism commissions ensures a lack of meaning.
Which is why I envious of those who can enjoy one of Vancouver's newest and most untainted and genuine rituals.
But, it will be made up with attendance in the coming weeks to many editions of Europe's finest rituals - Premiere League Football.